In this episode, James Swanwick shares how he improved his sleep after he stopped drinking alcohol and started wearing blue light-blocking glasses. James is an investor, speaker, sleep and alcohol expert, founder and CEO of Swanwick Sleep, and host of the Alcohol-Free Lifestyle Podcast.
James discusses how alcohol affects sleep, health, and physical activity. In addition, we discuss the importance of morning light, artificial blue light's problems, and why we should block artificial blue light.
Discover the benefits of living a sober lifestyle and using blue light-blocking glasses to sleep better, feel more energized, and perform better in your daily life.
James Swanwick is an Australian-American investor, entrepreneur, speaker, sleep and alcohol expert, and former SportsCenter anchor on ESPN. He is the founder and CEO of Swanwick Sleep and Alcohol-Free Lifestyle and has helped more than 200k people sleep better with his blue light-blocking glasses, Swannies, from Swanwick Sleep.
In this episode, we discuss:
💤 What prompted James to switch to health optimization?
From a social drinker to an alcohol-free lifestyle, improved sleep, and more!
💤 Some biohacking strategies: Using blue light blockers, abstaining from alcohol, and optimizing sleep
💤 Why should we block artificial blue light?
💤 Manchester United University of Washington has a full study showing that people who wear blue light-blocking glasses sleep 11% better and are 14% more productive the following day.
💤 James' nightly and morning routine
💤 What are the benefits of wearing blue-blocking glasses continually throughout the day and night?
💤 Full red lenses: how useful are they?
💤 The University of Washington put Swanwick glasses on test and showed 530 nanometers of the blue light were blocked
💤 How do blue-light glasses work for people who wear prescription glasses?
The information contained on this podcast, our website, newsletter, and the resources available for download are not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as, medical or health advice. The information contained on these platforms is not a substitute for medical or health advice from a professional who is aware of the facts and circumstances of your individual situation.
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Welcome to the Sleep is a Skilled podcast. My name is Mollie McGlocklin, and I own a company that optimizes sleep through technology, accountability and behavioral change. Each week I'll be interviewing world class experts, ranging from doctors, innovators, and thought leaders to give actionable tips and strategies that you can implement to become a more skillful sleeper.
Let's jump into your dose of practical sleep training.
Welcome to the Sleep is a Skilled podcast. My guest today is James Swanwick and he is an Australian American investor, entrepreneur, speaker, sleep and alcohol expert and former. Sports Center anchor on espn. He is the founder and CEO of Swanwick Sleep and the Alcohol Free Lifestyle, and has helped more than 200,000 people sleep better with his blue light blocking glasses, Swanee's from Swanwick Sleep.
Now, one of the reasons we brought James Swanwick on the podcast is certainly to speak about. Blue light and mitigating some of the effects as it could potentially impact our sleep results. So we go in deep onto that. But we also touch on his real passion and mission around helping to support an alcohol-free lifestyle.
More and more information is coming out around alcohol's, deleterious effects on our health, as well as certainly our sleep. And if any of you are tracking with any sort of wearable, I'm sure if you have had a. Or two or more. You have likely seen that that can make such an impact on your sleep results.
And certainly not just the possible fragmentation around your sleep, but then some of the other health metrics around your heart rate, your body temperature, your respiratory rate, your HIV V, and others. So we are gonna get into that more. And they have also hooked us up with a discount using sleep as a skill.com if you're so inclined to check out their blue light blocking glasses.
So without further ado, let's jump into the podcast. So I get a lot of questions around sleep supplements, and I'm very hesitant to just throw out a whole laundry list of possibilities. One, I don't think it's the most responsible thing to do. I really do believe in testing to see what types of supplements make sense for you.
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It's high safety profile and high rates of deficiencies in our modern society. Some put the numbers as somewhere around 80% of the population being deficient in this one area, and that is magnesium. So magnesium has been called the calming mineral, and some report that magnesium can increase gaba, which encourages relaxation on a cellular level, which is critical for sleep.
Magnesium also plays a key role in regulating our body's stress response system. Those with magnesium deficiency usually have higher anxiety and stress levels, which negatively impacts sleep As. Now before you go out and buy a magnesium supplement, it's important to understand that most magnesium products out there, either synthetic or they only have one to two forms of magnesium.
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James Swanwick, thank you so much for being here today. You're welcome and thank you so much for having me. Yes. No, I'm really excited to go in deeper with you. I've been a fan of both the company you've created, but also, uh, the stance that you've, uh, really taken for yourself and for others to help make a difference in the area of alcohol, what life could look like without alcohol.
In addition to your massive stance on how to optimize your environ. For light and how that can impact your health and wellbeing. So a couple topics for us to dive into, but I love what you've done in both of those areas. Thank you so much. I appreciate the kind words, Molly. Yes. Absolutely. And what I'd love to do is just hear a little bit of a that of a background of how in the world did you find yourself getting to this kind of state where you're able to now help support people on, uh, really educating on two of these major topics that might not be as obvious to many individual.
Well, I was a socially acceptable drinker of alcohol right up until 2010 when I stopped, and the reason that I stopped was I realized that my alcohol drinking was slowing me down. I was putting on some weight. I wasn't sleeping great, I was lethargic. But just to be clear, I wasn't an alcoholic. I wasn't getting an a dui.
I wasn't waking up arrested or anything like that. I was just a socially acceptable drink or a couple drinks at night, A few more on the weekends. No big deal, but like I said, I'd put on some weight. I was tired, lethargic, and I felt like a six outta 10. And so when I stopped drinking alcohol in 2010, I lost 13 pounds in 30 days.
I got my dream job hosting a TV show, Sports Center on espn. Wow. And. My relationships improved. The caliber of of acquaintance or friend that I seen to attract into my life went up exponentially and I just kept on on going. And so that then led me into learning about things like health and nutrition and great sleep, which we're gonna talk about.
And that's now, you know, fast forward 12 years, you know, now I help people to stop drinking and I help people to sleep better. And it all came from just that one choice of stopping drinking. Yes. Oh my God. I love that. And I love how you painted that picture so vividly of what came out of that and that you also spoke to the fact that it's not as if you are categorized as there was something pathological in nature with your relationship to alcohol.
This was something that a lot of people might have observed as, you know, very normal relationship with alcohol from the sounds. Very normal. It's cultural conditioning. It's, uh, socially accepted in my view. Now alcohol is nothing more than attractively packaged poison. People wanna drink it, no problem. I don't have any problems with that.
I've got, I make my choices. They make their choices. But when you. Really break it down and you realize that alcohol is just toxins. That's all it is. It's just, I mean, I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but the word alcohol comes from an Arabic term Alcohol and alcohol literally means body eating spirit.
What? I did not know that. Okay. Wow. It used to be used in witchcraft back in the day when it was first started. I mean, it's when you really trace the origins of it, you would shake your head in the modern world and go, What are we drinking this stuff for? But very clever companies and very clever marketers put things like champagne and beautiful gold bottles.
And we advertise beer to man and we associate it with sport. And when we, we associate champagne with celebration and toasting the bride and groom at a wedding. So we just go, Oh yeah, that's normal. I'm just gonna, I'm gonna drink. And there are these smiling assassins everywhere. And Smiling Assassin is the waiter or the waitress or the friend or the colleague or the boss or the family member who's like, Hey, can I get you a drink?
Can I get you a drink? And they don't mean to slowly kill you with this attract package poison, but they're smiling. As they're offering you this substance. So yeah, it's just a different way of looking at things and once you've kind of opened your eyes to it, it's hard not to see it again. Absolutely.
Okay. And then so one, um, that's fantastic. It sounds like this was a big period and point and shift in your life that then brought you into this world of health optimization, and so many splinters came out of that, including, The company that you created around really being mindful of the types of light that you're taking in as well, and how arguably that could be certain types of toxic light, if you will, in addition to.
Yes, I was in Palm Springs, California. I was in a hotel restaurant and a friend of mine who I went to dinner with was wearing this really ugly pair of uve safety glasses to dinner. Oh, sure. Yes. It was quite a nice, Oh, you did? There you go. Yeah. It was quite a nice restaurant. And he looked like a, Like a meth.
A meth chemist. Yeah. You know, like literally they unsightly. Yeah. And I said to him, What are, what are you doing? And he said, I'm trying to block the blue light. And I said, Block the blue light. What are you talking about? And he went on to explain that artificial light from. Overhead lights from the bathroom, light kitchen light, refrigerator light, your computer light, your cell phone light, the speedometer light, the McDonald's golden arches lights as you're driving down the highway.
Yeah. All of that light is emitting an artificial blue light, which at nighttime suppresses your body's ability to release melatonin. Mm. And so I was like, That's interesting. I believe you because you're wearing an ugly pair of glasses and you know you're prepared to look ridiculous at a nice re. So I went back to my home in, in Hollywood, California at the time, and I pulled out an old pair.
Ski goggles that I used to wear annually at, um, in Park City, Utah. And I put these, these ski goggles on, which had a kinda like an amber lens to it. And I started watching reruns of the TV series, Mad Men on, on amc. And what I found was is that whereas ordinarily without the ski goggles, I would get through a full episode when I was wearing the ski goggles, I would start to get very sleepy around halfway, halfway through the episode.
And ultimately, I'd have to remove the goggles. And go to sleep around two thirds of the way through an episode. And that's when it really hit me. It was like, Oh, these things are actually really calming and stopping my racing mind, and they're helping my body to release melatonin. And that's when I had the idea the next day to produce a stylish pair of blue light blocking glasses.
You know, that don't make me look like a meth chemist, quite frankly. Well, thank you for doing that because I did not have the gumption to actually wear mine out and about, but mine were really unattractive back in the day, years back and would wear them inside with all of my justifications about, Oh, I still gotta work and do all these things.
When I was doing all the things not to do for your sleep optimization and would wear these ridiculous looking things. So thank you for really being a leader. You know, would put you as one of the beginning companies, right? Where you, you were one of the original. Yeah. Well we weren't the original. Mm-hmm.
but we were the original stylish pair of glasses. Sure, yes. Yeah. Cause up until that point, it was all biohacker. I mean, I would, I identify as a bio hacker, but biohacking without style , It was just kind. Really geeky kind of eyewear. Yeah. And so I was just vain enough at the time that I wanted to look cool while blocking the blue light and ensuring that I got a great night's sleep.
And I did. So we, we created this, this company called Swanwick Sleep, and we produced blue light blocking glasses, which are. Affectionately nicknamed Swanee's. That was 2015. Fast forward to 2022, our blue light blocking glasses are now worn by professional athletes at teams, including New Orleans Saints and the New York Knicks and Manchester United University of Washington has done a, a full study on it showing that where is of the glasses sleep, 11% better and they 14% more productive the following day, which is extraordinary.
Think about it, whether or not you're a fan of the style that we have. If you just are intentional about blocking artificial light with any pair of blue light blocking glasses, you will sleep better and you will perform better. Absolutely. Well, one that is fantastic about that study. We'll definitely link to that in the show notes because that's really helpful for people to get a sense of the commitment behind wearing these.
It's beyond just kind of a fad or you know, something that people are starting to do. There really is clear evidence behind these steps. So thank you for sharing that piece. Are there any kind of rules of thumb for people to be aware of when. Selecting the types of blue blockers they're using. Cause I'll have a lot of people that say, Oh, I got that covered.
I've got my uh, my prescription lenses and they're blue blockers, so we're good. But they're clear or they're very light yellow. Any call up about the type? Yeah. So in the universe that we occupy currently, it is a physical impossibility that anything other than an orange lens blue light blocking. Set of glasses can block enough of the blue light that messes with your sleep.
Yes. In other words, all of these companies out there that are saying blue light blocking glasses help you sleep better and they're clear lens or a lens glasses, it's just a physical impossibility in the known universe Now. So just to be clear on that, the clear lens blue light blocking glasses, I would certainly invite you to use during the day as you are on a computer or you're working at screens.
And what the clear lens glasses will do is it will, it will filter the blue light so it will, you will actually have clarity and focus and energy you, you won't be susceptible to brain fog or irritation or headaches or migraines. Staring into that blue light that's just blasting our eyes all day. And then when the sun goes down at nighttime, and I would recommend about an hour before you intend to sleep, I would put on a pair of the orange lens blue light blocking glasses, which blocks enough of that artificial light that messes with your sleep.
So to summarize that clear lens, daytime. Orange lens, Nighttime. Great. Thank you for breaking that down. Any comments for people that can then sometimes go into, Well, then I gotta go and have my red lenses. So going from light yellow to the orange, and then some people taking it to the next level of having the full on red lenses.
Do you recommend that, or do you feel like that is just adding to. The complexity, I recommend anything that anybody is going to do consistently. Okay, And in my experience, Those three things, like adding a third layout, that being red light at the end is probably reserved really for the hardcore biohackers.
Sure. And that's great and terrific. Here's why. And candidly, there is a brand on the market that has a really, really dark lens, which. And it has a wrap around and probably blocks out a hundred percent of the artificial light that can mess with your sleep. Mm-hmm. . Whereas ours might block out, let's say 99%.
Yeah. However, here's the thing, ours that block out, 99% are kind of cool to wear and they're kind of easy to wear. Whereas the other ones that make you look like an alien, you know, like from a spaceship. And so the likelihood that someone is going to willingly wear a pair of glasses that are are not aesthetically pleasing is very low.
Another way to say that. While there might be slightly more superior product on the market than ours, I think it's vastly inferior because nobody wants to wear them. So when you ask the question, do I think red light therapy is overkill? I would say for most people, yes, because then you, you're adding another level of complexity.
Yeah, you'll get tired, frustrated, irritated. You won't wanna do it. It'll be hard to keep up with. And the next thing you know, you've just lost. That, uh, routine or the baby out with the bathwater? Yeah, I have seen that. So I've seen people jump from wearing nothing to, then they buy the darkest ones on the market and then they're tripping over themselves in their apartment or whatever.
And now they're annoyed with this thing and now they throw it out. They say, Ah, I can't do this. So thank you for kind of breaking that down because. I have seen some people make peace with that. Maybe they have a particular structure where they only wear the red ones when they're in bed and they're reading or whatever.
But for the, what I've seen often is if people try to wear those throughout the course of the night, it can be too much and they get annoyed, they can't. It's impacting their experience of whatever, if they're watching a show or something, and then they wanna get rid of them all together. So thank you for kind of sharing that element.
Consistency, winning out. It's like the difference of, Oh, I'm gonna work out hard at the gym and go crazy and you know, this master workout, but then I'm not gonna do it consistently. We want at least that consistency so that this becomes a part of your life. So great. Yes. Is there a way to check our blue blockers so that we ensure that they really are blocking all the lights, spectrums that we're looking to?
We have put ours through rigorous tests through spectrometry, but unless you've got $20,000 to buy one of those things at home, it might be a little challenging. There may be some on the market that I'm unaware of. The true test, I think is if you have an aura ring or any kind of wearable device that can track your, your movement of sleep in in the night, yeah, that can speak volume.
So for example, we have new customers of the Swanee's glasses from Swanee Sleep who will track their sleep before they've. The glasses and then they'll track their sleep after they've been wearing the glasses consistently. And almost all of them say they have seen a noticeable improvement in their sleep quality as registered from their Aura ring or their Fitbit or whatever else, whatever wearable device can track their sleep.
So that would be the easiest way, like anecdotally to see whether you. Sleep quality is improving. Like I said, ours have been through rigorous tests. The University of Washington tested our glasses, showed how much light they blocked, 530 nanometers of the blue light wavelength, but failing that, I can't think of another way that you might be able to test it at home.
Yeah. Well, I can just also share from my own personal experience. I was just wearing one of your lenses last night and I'm in Austin and I happen to look out, So there's where in downtown Austin and there's all this blue light from another hotel, like literally blue. It's a blue hue. Mm-hmm. and, but while you're wearing the swans, it looks, there's no blue like you, it cuts it out.
Totally. So even just the , if you wanna do. A uh, poor man's test. Even looking at something that should be blue, it should really alter that coloration is part of our thinking as well. I got a good test for you. Can you see me? You can see me on the video. You see this little blue light on my microphone?
Yeah, I can't see that cuz I'm wear, I'm wearing exactly my blue light. I can't see it. So let's see if I can do this. Well, there we go. Disappeared. Oh, look at that . That is a good, uh, little test. Right on, right on the spot, Ben. Yeah. If you are listening but not watching, what I'm doing is there's a, there's a little blue light, which shows that my microphone is on, and I'm just putting my orange lens, swanee glasses over the, the area where there's the blue light and the blue is disappearing.
That is great. I've had so many funny moments like that. I, we used to have this kettle that had a glue. It was like this really ridiculous blue that would glow on the bottom of it when it was on. And I, I remember one time I had my uh, blue blockers on and I was like, Why is this thing not turning on? This is so annoying and I keep like standing next to it.
This is so frustrating and I realize this because I have my blue blockers on. It cuts it out totally. So you just cannot even see the light. It was really a cool moment of the effectiveness of these, of these glasses. So, Well, thank you for, you know, kind of breaking that down cuz one of the things that we can see for people, When they're struggling with their sleep, they say, Oh my God, I just wanna fix this problem.
And they invest in blue blockers, but they might really obsess over the nuances of, Is this working? Am I doing it right? All of these questions. So just kind of having this guidance and being able to then rest at ease, and then it's just all about utilizing it and making it a part of your nightly routine.
So really great. So with that then the suggestion would be, That we're investing in these clear and kind of verified blue blockers. Would you also say for people that say, Oh, that's not for me because I have glasses, how do we work around that? Clip-ons? Mm-hmm. fit overs or any call ups there? Yeah, we have, There's two options with our company if you're a prescription glasses, whereas one is you can wear a pair of fit over.
So basically they're just a pair of glasses that go over the top of your existing prescription glasses. Now, candidly, that's not as aesthetically pleasing as if you just get a prescription pair of our blue light blocking glasses. However, the fit overs are are more cost effective. They're easier. Yeah, you can get a couple pairs, throw them on, and most of the time people in the last hour before they're gonna sleep or at home anyway.
And so they're not that worried or that that concerned about the aesthetics. Maybe it's just their husband or wife or their kids who are looking at them. Then probably not, but they're completely functional. They don't slip, and it's a really, really simple solution. They're called fit overs, and you can just find them on our website.
And then for those who actually want to invest in a proper prescription pair, again, you can just put in your script on our website and we'll make up a pair for you and we'll send them out. I am 46 years old, soon to be 47, and I Wow. Looking good. Whatever you're doing is working. Ah, well, thank you. Well, that's very kind of you, but I've always prided myself on having this 2020 vision until, Four or five months ago when I, at nighttime, I wasn't wearing my glasses, I was looking at my phone and I was like, Oh, I suddenly had to kind of move the phone away from me because the words were a little bit blurry.
And I went and had my eyes checked and the optometrists said, Oh, you have an age related eyesight. And that was the, the first kind of realization that I'm not a young spritely chicken anymore. And so I actually now wear a pair of readers of my blue light blocking glasses. So I'm wearing. I'm wearing the Swanee's readers daytime now.
Now I'm switching to the Swanee's reader's nighttime, and it's just a very, just a very small magnification, which makes everything look crystal clear through the lens. Great. Okay, So lots of different ways to kind of customize based on whatever you might be dealing with, with your particular eyes and habits.
And what have you. Mm-hmm. . Great. No, I appreciate that. I work with a lot of poker players in particular, so we have lots of systems for them in place as well, for when they're playing at the table, and then to help them downregulate with all that extreme emotional tilt that they might be going through at the table either.
Happy swings or the low swings. So it is really interesting to think of light in really having a kind of a drug-like effect and having the ability to modulate these things at particular times can be really, really helpful as well. We think of them as kind of akin to shift workers, but certainly some of the other shift workers will work with as well.
So these can be really, really beneficial. Yes, absolutely. Shift work is, especially in Australia, there's a big, uh, company there called The Other Shift, I think it's called, and it's a association or a group of people who, who specifically help those who do night shifts. Oh. Oh, you know that, That's great.
Yeah. I think it's called the, I think it's called the Other Shift and, Okay. Thousands of their followers wear our glasses, nurses and um, truck drivers and, um, you know, people who are doing service type things in the middle of the night where the blue light blocking glasses to try to regulate their sleeping habits.
It's really challenging for, um, shift workers who work through the night and then come home and the. With the sunlight shining in the day and then have to sleep during the night because it's so important to sleep in a black, dark environment. And yeah, in the middle of the day, if any of that light is shining through, it's gonna be very challenging.
In fact, there was an article I read recently, I think it was on cnn.com, there was a new study that came out that any light, any artificial. From an alarm clock on your bedside table or the air conditioning light or any kind of light that sees through onto your skin as you sleep in the night can compromise your sleep quality, which is fascinating.
So, black, black, black, dark out curtains, turn off all the light like any of those, that little annoying light. Otherwise you won't sleep the way that nature intended you to. Absolutely and so many other fallout effects in alignment, like the recent study that came out in a akin to that where how that seems to also affect your glucose and insulin levels and the effectiveness of your ability to kind of manage your hunger and society response the following day, even just the next day alone.
So a hundred percent, so many impacts that we really wanna be aware of. So thank you for the work that you do in this area. And also wanted to touch on a. The strong stance that you take that I think is so admirable in this area of alcohol and a little bit more about what you've discovered for alcohol and its relationship with sleep and, and just even the, I think there's power too, in people being able to hear examples of.
Socially well adapted humans navigating this world with a clear choice to not partake in alcohol, what that looks like, how you still are a part of society in a, in a particular way, and what that all looks like, . It's so funny, isn't it? Like if I quit drinking and the fear is that op. Be ostracized from society,
But you know what? I'll tell you why that if you really wanna know from an evolutionary psychological viewpoint as to why that is, I'll, I'll share it with you. Cause yeah, back in the day for thousands and thousands of years, we were really only in tribes of no more than 150. I think Dunbar's number, that famous term is about 140 or 150, I think.
Yeah. So we used to be in these tribes, 140, 150, and we used to roam all over and and things. But if you were banished from the tribe for whatever reason, that meant certain death, almost certain death, because a rival tribe might murder you or a bear, or a wolf might eat you. Your ability to get food to hunt by yourself to get water was limited if you are ostracized from the group for any reason.
Now, fast forward to 2022. Life is obviously very different. If a group kicks you out for whatever reason, well you can just join another group. It's called Facebook, or it's called Instagram, or it's called just talking to the next person to your next door neighbor or joining a sport club, or you know, following a sports team or whatever.
Like you can just join another tribe. There are tribes everywhere and doors are open. They're gonna have you. Unless, of course you're in America and you're very political and you're divided right down the middle and you're Democrat or Republican, or you're Trump or anti-Trump. Yeah, yeah. Some of those guys, some of those guys won't probably take you, but it is a very kind of reptilian brain fear.
Yeah. So I get it. I get why people feel that kind of unexplainable fear that people are gonna ostracize them or judge them or banish them if they say, Hey, I don't drink alcohol. Right. But here's how I would. You and others to look at this. To me, alcohol is not the reward, right? Alcohol is not pleasurable.
Outstanding health is the reward. Yeah. And outstanding health is pleasurable yet. Cultural conditioning and society keeps pushing this notion that in order for you to fit in or in order for you to feel like you're having fun, or in order for you to feel like able to socialize that you need to drink this attractively packaged poison.
Now, I can tell you very few people on this planet, whatever accuse me of being dull, and I haven't drunk alcohol since 2010, and I have had a vastly superior time of life and quality of life since I stopped drinking and. This may sound a little crass or crude to some people, but I mean, I used to go to these Hollywood Hills parties when I was there and I went to these Hollywood Hills parties where as a drinker, and I also went to these Hollywood Hills parties as a non-drinker.
And my, the time that I had was so much better as a non-drinker and so much so that I was clear. I was present, I was focused. I would dance on tables, I would meet people, I would be engaged, I would have fun, and I would drink soda, water, ice, and a piece of. When I would wake up in the morning, I would feel the way that nature intended me to feel, which was refreshed and hydrated, and I would just go about my day as opposed to many people who I know were waking up and sleeping in until all hours and feeling tired and lethargic and irritable.
So for me, it's once I realized that nobody really cares that you don't drink nobody. They only care. That you are having a good time or that you are fun to be with. Yeah. But if you go into a, a social situation, you're like, Oh, I can't drink. Oh geez, I'm blah. I wish I could drink. I can't drink. Then of course people are gonna say, Go on, just have one.
You'll be fine. Come on. But if you go in and go, I don't drink. I've lost a better weight. I'm feeling pretty good. I'm actually, But let me get drunk on this soda water. Ha ha. People drop it, people don't care and you just get on with life. Ah, thank you for sharing that cuz that's a hundred percent been my experience as well because for so much now in many, many years, especially since going in deep on this topic of sleep optimization and one, I tend to be very metrics.
Driven. So just seeing the wild change that I have on my wearables and my data points on when I'm not drinking, that's really helpful. But the actual subjective experience of getting to feel just amazing and really, I think it can be an opportunity to kind of step into a leadership role of.
Demonstrating what's possible for ourselves in these social situations, that it doesn't have to be navigated or impacted by our choice or not choice. To have this type of state changer, which really I think is a lot of what people are looking for. They're looking to change their state in some particular way, but we can actually conjure that and by extension, not getting stuck in that vicious cycle that tends to happen, where then you're drinking.
You don't sleep well, you wake up the next day, you might be a little bit more anxious, run down, Ugh, I need a drink. And then we keep doing these things that aren't working. So thank you so much for providing that. Yeah, you're, you're welcome. And, and just to speak to that point, most people mistakenly think that a glass of wine at the end of the day is relaxation.
Yeah. It's not. It's just pouring fuel on a fire that is going to disrupt your sleep cause you irritation. Make you feel lethargic. Make you crave sugary foods, which will make you overeat, which will put on more weight, which will make you lose your confidence, which will result in more anxiety and and more stress.
If you are going to drink alcohol, you are better off drinking alcohol for breakfast. Then, yes. Then at nighttime, because at least then you've got the whole day to get the toxins outta your system, and that way you can sleep the way that nature intended you to sleep. But people who are drinking alcohol within a few hours of bedtime, you're literally just saying to the universe, Give me a bad night's sleep, please.
Yeah. Hey, universe may please have irritability and tiredness and frustration in the morning. Oh, certainly. Here you go. It's, it's wrapped up in a nice glass of wine and waiters and waitresses do it all the time at restaurants and friends encouraging you to drink. They say, Oh, hello. Hello, Molly. Hello, Ms.
McLaughlin. Can I get you started with a beautiful glass of, um, regret and, uh, some additional calories and some compromise sleep and some frustration and irri ability tomorrow? Yeah. Would you like a beautiful glass? Oh, yes, please. I'd love that. Let me consume that. That's essentially what they're inviting you to, to drink because that's all it is.
And so again, you better off, you better off having a beer or wine with your cornflakes in the morning or your muffin or whatever you have than doing it any anywhere close to bedtime. I could not agree more with that. So a lot of what we speak to at sleep is a skill, is this element of circadian rhythm and treatment.
So if you are going to indulge at certain points, Please take this, uh, suggestion, not as kind of just ingest, but really how can we, if we are going to engage in alcohol, how can we put that much earlier than most people would think of? And what would that look like? So we would be really endorsing more of the kind of boozy brunch, maybe at the latest, very early, happy hour, if you will.
But even that being aware. What I see. So every client we work with is wearing at least the aura ring, if not more wearables. And I can almost always tell, even if it's just one glass, that people are having a, whatever it might be, wine, alcohol, mixed drinks, et cetera, it will often show up on their sleep results in some way, shape, or form.
So I think many of us don't quite realize the impact, the measurable impact, and the subjective impact that's. It's out of control. I mean, it's how people are unaware of this and it's, I I get it. I get it. I mean, I had to educate myself and now I'm educated, but I, I have a podcast called Alcohol Free Lifestyle Podcast in in Apple podcast and on Spotify, and it specifically helps high achievers to have a better relationship with, with alcohol.
And I get, I get comments and people emailing in all the time who share with me that. By them stopping drinking even for a week. They sleep so much better. So much better. Not to mention our client, I have a program called Project 90 and I help folks to stop drinking for at least 90 days. And then I also have a, a one year program as well, and the health results from those folks, stopping drinking for just 90 days is insane.
Yeah, I'll tell you what happens. Resting heart rate drops dramatically. Yeah. Blood. Drops, triglycerides, drop cholesterol, drop anxiety and stress drop. Overall feeling of wellness and positive outlook. Mindset of life. Increase presence with family, increase repairing relationships. Increase. I mean, It's crazy.
In fact, the University of Florida has just commissioned a study that they're doing on my program. It's gonna be rolled out over Oh great. The end of 2022 and 2023, and they are going to track workplace outcomes and health outcomes of about 150 of our clients going through, so they can write a paper, which hopefully will be published all over the world.
That's the intention to just show the public, to show people. At how much better functioning you will be and how much more you will enjoy your life if you just either reduce or entirely stop drinking. That's amazing. Well, congratulations. I can't wait to see the results of that. That's incredible. And if anyone's listening and not finding themselves in this conversation, they say, Oh, that's not for me.
I only drink once a week. It's very minimal, very reasonable, very socially responsible, et cetera. I mean, I've certainly seen, I'm sure you could speak, I would imagine it would echo this of just even one night of drinking per week, how much that can have a ripple effect into their health and wellbeing.
How that affects sleep. Not even just that night, but often we see a leftover effect, kind of a sticky effect for certain people's heart rate for their V, you know, extended. Yes. And sometimes it can take them a while to kind of get back on track. Do you see the same thing? Yeah. Here's the thing, is one, Of alcohol every week or two gonna kill you.
No, it's not. You'll be just fine. Yeah. But if the one night a week you're drinking two or three glasses of wine or a beer or vodka or something, you don't, Not necessarily getting drunk, but getting a little buzz or feeling a little tipsy. Feeling a little relaxed. Yeah. And you have one night of compromise sleep.
Yeah. And you are tired and lethargic and you sleep in an hour, two hours longer than you ordinarily. To speak to your point, Molly, it will take you Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, just to get back on track. And here's the thing, why do you even want to. Have a drink on a special occasion. Anyway, this this whole notion that, Oh, I'm just gonna have a drink on a special occasion, I would invite you to look at alcohol as like I keep saying attractively packaged poison, and that the special occasion is every single day of your life that you're an optimal health.
That's the special occasion. So, you know, again, I don't wanna ba because I know most of the listeners partake in in alcohol and I certainly did for years, and I don't wanna just bash on it. I'm just here to present the facts. And the facts are that there is absolutely zero. Zero, zilch zada. Whatever, however other ways you can say zero health benefits to alcohol.
There were these studies in the eighties that seemed to suggest that a glass of wine day is good for heart health. Those studies have been debunked so many times over the years. Now, all of the latest research and study that comes out. Demonstrates that alcohol has no redeeming qualities whatsoever other than people's notion that it brings them together and bonds them and, and forges forges alliances.
My argument, what I've been saying for years is you can forge alliances and bond and have shared experiences without alcohol in. Here's a question for your listeners. Write down the top 10 most euphoric moments of your life, those times where you felt immense pride or happiness or joy. And then write down how many times alcohol was present and how many times in that top 10 alcohol was necessary.
And when I take my clients through this process, on average, 80% of the of people's top 10 life moments. Alcohol, either was not present or wasn't the reason for it. Being on that top 10 life moments, for example, birth of a child, first kiss, shared moment on a, on a vacation in the morning or at a sunset where there was no alcohol.
When they said, I do on their wedding day, all of these things that did not involve alcohol or alcohol was not present and wasn't necessarily part of the process. And when you look at that, you. Huh? Why am I spending most of my social life needing? Alcohol thinking that I need alcohol as a social lubricant in order to have fun and create joy in my life.
When 80% of my top 10 moments, I didn't need it at all. Absolutely. Ugh. I love that exercise. Thank you for sharing that. And I absolutely encourage people listening. I'm sure that this is resonating for the listener to check out your podcast, to even go deeper on some of these, you know, kind of a, a new possibility of what life could look like.
And having certainly you, as an example, is really helpful. So thank you so much for that end. To that point, I think we could probably learn some things about how you are managing some of the, um, day to day aspects of your life. So, We ask everyone four questions and be curious to hear your response, and the first one that we always ask is, what is your nightly routine or your sleep routine look like?
I'm assuming we wouldn't see alcohol part of that, but anything else to share that would be noteworthy? Yeah, so I, let's, let's call it six days of the week. I don't eat within three hours of sleep. Great. That's my, my intention is seven, but sometimes, you know, I'm out with restaurant, with friends and it goes late and I'm, I'm, I'm eating, But the intention is to have my last meal three hours before I intend to go to sleep.
I actually have an alarm in my phone. That goes off at about, uh, five 30 in the afternoon that says 30 minutes to have your last meal. That way I'm finished by six and I tend to go to sleep at nine, particularly in the wintertime. In the summer. I stay up a lot later cuz you know, the sun's out cetera. So the alarm.
I might set the alarm back an hour. Mm-hmm. and ultimately go to sleep at 10. Yeah. So that's first thing because all the studies show that if you are eating within three hours of bed, then you compromise your sleep because your body is going to work to digest the food that you've consumed. And we don't want our body to go to work when it's sleeping.
We want it to relax and repair and restore. You're right. No alcohol. Haven't had any alcohol. Since 2010, I also try to limit or drink no more liquids at all, like no water, no soda, water. So I do try to, because while that's not as bad as eating within three hours, if I drink too much water, I tend to want to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, and that can certainly, you know, disrupt a good night's sleep.
Also, if you're urinating too much, for example, and then I will put on my blue light blocking glasses, usually on average, about an hour before I go to sleep. Sometimes an hour and a half, two hours, if. If I'm home, if I'm out and about maybe 45 minutes, but once I put these glasses on, they stay on until I've switched the, the last light off.
So that means when I put them on, I brush my teeth with them on, I scroll through my phone, which admittedly I know I shouldn't do. I'm as guilty as the next person of being stuck on electronics. I'm stuck on electronics while wearing a pair of blue light blocking glasses. Huge. Yep. I'm in a hotel room as you and I are recording this now.
So there's an air conditioning unit here. I make sure that the air conditioning is always set to 69 degrees, which is a little chilly for many people, especially women who feel the cold a lot more. However, all the science shows that the optimal. Temperature for a great night's sleep is between 65 and 69 degrees Fahrenheit.
So I just make sure that whether I'm home or whether I'm in a hotel, 69 degrees is where I like like it to be, which is nice and cool. Big blackout curtains. Obviously hotel rooms are a disaster for light. They've got the alarm clock light, they've got the air conditioning light. They've got all just these annoying little lights.
Have you seen those alarm clock lights on the, on the bed table, Molly? Oh, I know the. I know it's so bad. Yeah, they're so bad. . So I, I'll either pull it out if I, if I find it appropriate to do so, or I'll turn it around and then put a book in front of it to try and block it. I'll do anything I can and then this is probably of equal importance to blocking blue light at night, and that is, Getting exposed to as much natural light as soon as possible first thing in the morning.
Oh my God. You're answering our next question, which is what is your morning sleep routine? And you're, you perfectly spoke right to that. Some people say, Well, you know, what is the morning really have to do with your sleep? And yet everything certainly know. Yes, exactly. Yeah, so our skin has receptors in it, and when the sunlight of a morning, a morning sunlight hits our skin, it tells our internal clock known as our circadian rhythm, daytime.
So then our body. Getting that signal starts to naturally flood with things like cortisol and all the daytime hormones. We start to become alert. We start to have energy. And to be clear, humans want and need blue light. We do need blue light. The biggest emitter of blue light is the sun. Yeah. And we love the sun.
We wanna worship the sun. We wanna get as much natural sunlight as possible. It's just we wanna. Blue light at night. So expose ourselves to blue light, natural blue light from the sun in the morning. Block as much artificial light from electronics at nighttime. So what I always do is I always make sure that in the first five or 10 minutes, I will go outside and expose myself to the sun, or I'll stand by a window and I'll get sun.
A very common question is, what happens if it's the middle of winter and the sun gets up after you wake up? Which is a great question. The answer is you can do two things. One, you can buy what's called a, a wake up light, which that's just, say you're waking up at 5 36 in the morning, but the sun doesn't get up until seven.
You can actually have an alarm that will literally start to turn on and shine this light that kind of mimics as much of. The sun that it can, so that the light is now shining on you as you get up. And then you can have this light shining on you in the morning, and then when the sunlight, the sun actually comes up, you then go outside and expose yourself to the light.
So that's a way, way around that. But definitely get as much natural sunlight in the morning because that is, that will definitely help you sleep at. Absolutely. So good. Okay, so then, so we've got a sense of these bookends for you of what happens at night, what happens in the morning, and then what might we see visually, and you might have already spoken to this, but on your nightstand or proverbial nightstand, if you're kind of traveling, are there apps or ambiance or gadgets or anything that you make sure you have available?
Always my own brand of blue light blocking glasses. Obviously always, I mean, I'm not joking. I, I have pairs and pairs in them in my luggage. I just make sure I'm not with, not without 'em. And now I've got the readers. Of course, I'm wearing an aura ring, so I, I make sure that I track my sleep, which is a great way for me to just stay on track and, and I think the best thing about.
The ordering or any wearable device is that it creates the intention to sleep better. Sure. So even if you, even if you miss it for a night or it's not charged or, or whatever, because you're thinking about it and, and you get into this pattern of wanting to see your results. Each morning, it helps me at least be held accountable to practicing good, good sleep habits.
I read a book a day, or at least I attempt to. I'm a speed reader. I like physical books as well. I don't like carrying them around with me though, in my luggage, cuz it starts to get a bit heavy. Yeah. But I have three physical books with me in my luggage at the moment cuz I'm traveling and then I have a Kindle.
So I like to read a book and try to get one done in about 45 minutes to an hour. So I'll always have. And then I've got bottled water. Admittedly, it's in a plastic bottle, which is not great, but it's not awful. I'd rather be drinking water out of a plastic bottle than a, than not drinking water at all. I drink.
Yeah. and I certainly, I've been guilty in the past of not drinking enough water. Sure. But if you can really increase your water intake, that helps you to suppress your hunger, which. Prevents you from eating more crappy food, helps you feel healthier, which makes you feel brighter and more energetic. And then it becomes a beautiful cycle as opposed to a vicious cycle.
Yes. Oh, so true. Great tips and so interesting about the books. Do you have any favorite books that you might recommend in the realm of kind of sleep, light, alcohol, any callouts. Yeah, there's a great book from a gentleman that you had on your show, Dr. Michael Bruce, who wrote a book. Oh, sure. He's great.
Yeah. He wrote a book called, uh, The Power of When, in fact, I just had a Zoom, uh, catch up call with him, uh, just yesterday. Oh, amazing. He's on our newsletter. I, he'll often respond to our, we do a weekly newsletter on sleep optimization, so we'll often chat after that. That's very cool. Yeah. Yeah. He's a great friend of mine and he's been a big supporter of our Swanee's glasses.
In fact, he took our Swanee's glasses on the Kelly and, uh, Ryan Show, or the Kelly Ripper Show Sure. And the Today Show and a few other places. So he's a big, amazing, big supporter of the glasses. So that book is great. And then, uh, another great book on health and wellness. Let's see. I, I know there's one. I, There's a book called Evolutionary Psychology by Professor David Bus.
It's not so much about health, but it is about human beings and why we think the way we think and act the way we act. That is an amazing book. It's a big, thick, kind of like, like almost like a college textbook, which costs a hundred dollars plus on Amazon, but it'll blow your mind. It's not for the fainthearted because there's stuff in there that people probably don't like reading.
I'll just say that, but it's, it's very, very, Science based. It's all about why we do the things we do. Human beings, what we find attractive, who we find attractive, and why. That's a fascinating book. And then health and nutrition. Let's see that I'm missing something. Oh, there's a great book called, um, I think it's called Salt, Sugar Fat, by Michael Moss.
And it's about how all of the food giants have tricked. And hooked us into eating their really crappy food. Mm. And so that's a, that's a New York Times bestseller. And one of the things that I remember from it is, um, these food companies, they hire scientists, put 'em in a laboratory to try and find the right texture and the right flavors to make us wanting to eat more.
So, I don't know if you've ever in, um, an Oreo cookie before, but I love these damn things. Yes. There's a pack of Oreos and I eat. I'm probably gonna eat 10 because they've designed it in such engineer way, way, that's it. They've engineered it such a way to make me want to eat more of those things. So that's a really eyeopening book as well.
And um, yeah, those are great too because it is surprising how much of a measurable change we'll see for people when they adjust. Their nutrition, just even, I've seen people go low to no sugar, et cetera. You know, different types of diets where they're really promoting more whole foods and kind of more of a naturalistic approach.
And it is wild the difference that you'll see measurably and of course, objectively. But I like how you've pointed to that element of evolutionary. Perspective as far as behavioral change, or I'm linking it to behavioral change and our ability to actually implement these things, to be aware of some of our limitations, and then to actually be able to bring these into practice because it's great to learn all these things, but if we're not implementing them, as you said in the beginning, the consistency is really, that's gonna weigh out and be king over time.
So, Fantastic recommendations and then that would lead me to super curious, your response on what for you has made the biggest change to your sleep game, or biggest aha moment you've had when managing this area of your life. Well, without question, stopping drinking alcohol created a cascade of healthy habits in my life.
Yeah. So what I would say is one habit changed. Has the ability to create dozens of habit changes over a number of years, which has the ability to profoundly change the quality of your life. Mm. So for me, that was just stopping alcohol. As soon as I stopped alcohol, I started learning. Paleo lifting weights in the gym and running and stretching, and mobility and mindfulness and meditation.
I did a 10 day silent meditation called a Passion. I did self-development programs, including MIT T and Landmark Forum. Oh, I've done a lot of landmarks. That's awesome. Yeah, amazing. I traveled, interviewed the world's leading sleep doctors, interviewed the world's leading nutritionist, interviewed the world's leading meditation gurus, I guess for, for lack of a better phrase, whereas before that, when I was drinking, I was just blindly walking through life with no real intention, you know?
I was just kind of whatever. But having the clarity and the focus from that one change just opened. My mind and my life to just so many different positive changes. So, ah, that's, that's what I would say. It might not be alcohol for you, for you, the listener, it might be something else. Hopefully it's alcohol, but if it's not and it's something else, just, you know, one change can lead to just a whole waterfall of positive changes.
Ah, so well said. It makes me think of the book, The Power of Habit and kind of a keystone habit and those one, that big audacious change for you. That seems to, for, for anyone, for any of the listeners, that then sets into effect this whole cascade of positive effects. That's wonderful. Yeah. Chelsea Duhigg is the author of that.
Yeah. Yeah, so great. Okay, so I'm sure anyone listening is gonna wanna know, how can I listen to this human being a bit more, how can I follow, you know, the work that you're doing, the products, the programs, all the things. What are the best ways to do that? Thank you. Do they wanna listen to me because of my cool Australian accent?
Or is I think that might help and the fact that you're like aging in reverse all of these things people are gonna wanna know what are you doing? So yeah. . Yeah. Well if look, if having a better relationship with alcohol is of interest to you, then I would certainly invite you to listen to the, the podcast it's called.
Alcohol Free Lifestyle. It's in Apple Podcast and on Spotify. The website as well as called is alcohol free lifestyle.com, and we have a 90 day program and a 365 day program there. And then the glasses and sleep products, firstname.lastname@example.org, but my last name is actually pronounced. Swank, but Americans don't quite get the silent W so I I Oh, we really pronounced that.
I definitely did that. Sorry about that. I should have double. No, no, no, that's okay. I'm, I actually say Swanwick now cuz I've had, I've been interviewed so many times on American shows that I just got, got one week sleep. I apologize. For our culture and myself, ? No, no, not at all. Swanwick sleep.com. You can get kids glasses.
I mean, if your kids are exposed to blue light, now is a good time to protect their eyes because they've done studies that show that, um, kids grades at school suffer if they're staring in a screen. So if, but they, they do better if they're wearing a pair of blue light. Boxing glasses. So yeah, if you wear prescription, get glasses there.
If you got all kinds of styles for men and women, we're on Amazon as well. You can just type in one week sleep and you'll find our products on, on Amazon also. That is great. Awesome. Well, thank you so much. Thank you for taking the time. I know you're on the road and doing lots of great things in the world to help support these healthy habits.
So thank you for the work you're doing and for taking the time to be. You're welcome and thank you so much for having me, Molly. I appreciate you. Aw, thank you so much. You've been listening to The Sleep Is a Skilled podcast, the number one podcast for people who wanna take their sleep skills to the next level.
Every Monday I send out something that I call Molly's Monday Obsessions, continuing everything that I'm obsessing over in the world of Sleep. Head on over to Sleep is a skill.com to sign up.